Fletcher Relaxed And Ready Ahead
Of Notts' New County Championship Season
Comment and Analysis | 8th April 2011
It could be a make or break season for Luke Fletcher, not that you would know it.
Even though he is coming into the final months of his two-year deal, the young seamer remains typically ebullient and phlegmatic.
Meeting up with him for the first time since a winter trip to Australia, he greets you with a wide smile and a hearty handshake. If the 22-year-old feels under pressure by being out-of-contract at the end of 2011, he is hiding it very well.
"I'm looking forward to getting straight back into the season and hopefully doing well because last season was horrible," said Fletcher.
"After a good first year in the first team I was expecting to do well again, but it didn't happen. I feel I let myself down.
"I tore my abdominal at the start of the season and that put me back a month and I never really got back to regular cricket after that.
"And even when I did get a chance I didn't put the performances in. I didn't do myself justice.
"But I feel like I have given myself the best possible chance to succeed this summer with my preparations.
I am at a good level of fitness, I'm bowling well and I'm hitting the ball well with the bat.
"I know I might have to be patient and wait for my opportunity because there are a lot of good bowlers in the squad.
"But I feel that this time I am in a better place to take any opportunities that come my way."
The early signs in Fletcher's quest are undeniably encouraging. An under-strength Notts side was beaten by the MCC by 174 runs in the season curtain-raiser out in Abu Dhabi, but the man from Bulwell was one of Notts' star performers.
Fletcher took 4-69 in the first innings, including India legend Rahul Dravid for a second-ball duck, and 4-64 in the second to deliver a match return of 8-133.
Even so, the right-arm seamer is aware he might have t
o bide his time when team-mates playing overseas return to the fray.
"I don't think I am going to be first choice because Andre Adams and Darren Pattinson will get the nod and Paul Franks also had an excellent season last year," said Fletcher.
"That probably leaves one other seamer spot to fight for – but I'm prepared to fight for it.
"If I don't get in at first, I will work my backside off and wait. It's a squad game and a long season and I know we can't all play at the same time.
"When I do get to play it's up to me to make it impossible for Mick (Newell, director of cricket) to drop me.
"I'm not worrying about the future. If it goes well it does, if doesn't, then it doesn't. But I don't want to leave Trent Bridge."
Fletcher comes into the 2011 season having spent a chunk of the winter playing grade cricket in Australia for Buckley Ridges in the suburbs of Melbourne.
"It was not too bad a standard, pretty much like the Notts Premier League here," said Fletcher.
"It was the team that Paul Franks captained the year before and I finished up with 30-odd wickets averaging something like 13 or 14 and scored some runs too.
"I was disappointed to miss their grand final, but it was good to come back to England and I think I have benefited from the time out there."
Those who have followed Fletcher's career closely will be fully aware of his potential as a batsman.
He scored 92 at the Rose Bowl against Hampshire in 2009 to help Notts to victory in that game and wants to make such knocks more of a rule than an exception.
"I need to start stepping up my batting because I've had three years to adjust to the county level now," he said.
"I've had the time when I can be classed as young and still learning and now I need to get runs on the board when I come in.
"It's all about showing patience and proving you have the ability to do it."
Make or break, do or die, Fletcher is determined to enjoy this summer come what may.
Matt Halfpenny is the Midlands Sports Journalist of the year and follows Nottinghamshire for the Nottingham Post.